Saturday, February 9, 2013

Three Men in a Boat - by Jerome K. Jerome

Free US/UK Kindle Classic

One of the most beloved British books remains largely unknown to Americans.  I can only be talking about, Three Men in a Boat (US Edition)  (UK Edition)  by English writer Jerome K. Jerome.  With a name like that, he had to have a sense of humor . . .

The full title of the book is:  THREE MEN IN A BOAT (to say nothing of the dog).  And yes, the period appears to be part of the title.

Published in 1889, it was a huge success.  "I pay Jerome so much in royalties," the publisher told a friend, "I cannot imagine what becomes of all the copies of that book I issue. I often think the public must eat them."

Let’s compare the standing on the UK and US Amazon Bestseller list.

UK:  #172 Free in Kindle Store

US: #2,385 Free in Kindle Store

So maybe, I should give a bit of an explanation.  This book is about men messing about in a boat.  A dog is involved - although not in the passage below!

Rather an amusing thing happened while dressing that morning. I was very cold when I got back into the boat, and, in my hurry to get my shirt on, I accidentally jerked it into the water. It made me awfully wild, especially as George burst out laughing. I could not see anything to laugh at, and I told George so, and he only laughed the more. I never saw a man laugh so much. I quite lost my temper with him at last, and I pointed out to him what a drivelling maniac of an imbecile idiot he was; but he only roared the louder. And then, just as I was landing the shirt, I noticed that it was not my shirt at all, but George's, which I had mistaken for mine; whereupon the humour of the thing struck me for the first time, and I began to laugh. And the more I looked from George's wet shirt to George, roaring with laughter, the more I was amused, and I laughed so much that I had to let the shirt fall back into the water again.

"Ar'n't you — you — going to get it out?" said George, between his shrieks.

I could not answer him at all for a while, I was laughing so, but, at last, between my peals I managed to jerk out:

"It isn't my shirt — it's yours!"

I never saw a man's face change from lively to severe so suddenly in all my life before.

"What!" he yelled, springing up. "You silly cuckoo! Why can't you be more careful what you're doing? Why the deuce don't you go and dress on the bank? You're not fit to be in a boat, you're not. 

Not fit to be in a boat?  But, surely we can read about it! 

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